Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Ilili is a new Lebanese spot on 5th between 27th and 28th. Sleek wooden lines forming boxes on the ceiling and dark red drapes in the front give Ilili a sleek modern feel. The menu is meant to be shared and structured that way, and has plenty of vegetarian options. Unfortunately, the food is only good, not spectacular.

I'll give quick summaries of the many dishes I tried:

Pita bread - a little too tough for my taste, but warm and otherwise reasonably tasty
Hummus - Good but slightly too sour, and I'd prefer it served warm ala Hummus Place
Baba Ghanouj - competent but somehow not compelling
Warm eggplant - a tasty, tangy take on eggplant, cross sections of eggplant are served with a tomato-based sauce. This dish had a nice texture, and again, shows this restaurant's tendency towards sourness. But overall it was tasty and had me going back to seconds.
Salad with palm - this was a very plain salad, and the palm was good.
Brussels sprouts -- Here Brussels sprouts were cooked with fig puree, walnut, and mint. Tasty, but not as good as the sprouts at Alta. The sauce detracted from the crispness of sprouts that can be so pleasing.
Duck egg with kashkashar cheese - The duck egg is not fertilized. This is an excellent dish, the standout of the table. It's listed under the "meat" section but is actually vegetarian. The dense texture of the egg and cheese meld together seamlessly and have a pleasingly bite and savor.
Falafel - These were a bit dry and did not come with nearly enough Tahini sauce.
Cheese rolls - These spring rolls with a blend of feta and kashkashal cheese was tender on the outside and had a pleasing saltiness on the inside. A moderate winner.

Overall, the service was elegant and the decor enjoyable, but the food only above-average. A qualified recommendation.

Stars: 3/5

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